A member of the Tai family of languages, spoken by c. 40 million people mainly in Thailand, where it is the official language, with further speakers in adjoining areas of Vietnam, China and Laos; also known as Siamese.
A literary tradition started emerging in the 13th century. The Thai alphabet, dating from the late 13th century, seems to have been derived from Devanagari, a south Indian script. The modern Thai alphabet consists of 44 consonants and 32 vowels.
There are four major dialects in Modern Thai, the main differences being chiefly tonal and phonological. The modern literary language is based on the central dialect , which includes the Bangkok standard. Thai is uninflected and most words are monosyllabic. There are five tones - middle, low, falling, high and rising.
CLASSIFICATION = Tai family, SCRIPT = Thai